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306 Show Time!


The last couple of months have been a continuous stress raiser; starting with the completion of the engine repairs, then getting 1264 inspected and check flown in conjunction with the static displays at Downton Hall and Yeovilton, the approval of the modification for the aluminium pistons, the check flight at the last minute at Yeovilton, and the practice display to keep my display authorisation current.

There hasn’t been a moment when we haven’t been very concerned about the status of 1264 in time for the start of the flying programme.

Nonetheless, we managed to get all the boxes ticked, and on Thursday Phil at the Shuttleworth removed one cylinder from the engine in order to check for any wear on the pistons. There were no problems, and he popped it back together in time for the weekend.

We arrived at the Shuttleworth on Saturday, together with Stephen Saunders bearing a large boxload of DVDs, so we rolled 1264 out and set up our stand in front, and spent a great day nattering to people, many of whom took advantage of the great price of the DVDs to get a sneak preview of what may well end up on British TV.

So now we were all ready to go for the Fly Navy airshow on the Sunday, and all we needed was the weather. Even at 0800, there was a queue of cars stretching over the horizon waiting to get in, and not obviously put off by the absence of the poor old Sea Vixen which had suffered a hydraulic failure the week before an had to perform a wheels-up landing.

Jock Alexander (CEO of the Navy Wings charity) and the head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Keith Blount, came to look round 1264 with their wives, and at 1100 I did a pilot talk which seemed to be well received.

During the pilot briefing the weather, which had looked distinctly marginal for the WWI machines, seemed to be improving, though there was rain approaching from the west, and it was possible it might show up early to spoil the show.

Over the winter, Dodge Bailey had worked with a university to provide some amazing data with which they’d managed to persuade the CAA to allow – for Shuttleworth displays only – aircraft like ours doing slower, non-aerobatic flights to come closer to the crowds.

The latest flying programme was also issued, but these things are so flexible, it was out date before the end of the briefing.

In the end, our slot time was amended a couple of times in order to accommodate the variable arrival time of the BBMF Hurricane and Spitfure who had been weathered in at Bournemouth.

Still, finally we were given the green light, and 1264 started as reliably as always, and she leapt into the air.

The display itself was thoroughly enjoyable – I even had to reduce throttle on the ends of turns to keep the speed within limits, and I managed to do a decent topside pass this time.

The landing was absolutely fine, but as I tried to taxi back past the crowds, something forced the tail right round 180 degrees, and it seemed easier to taxi back to the takeoff point so that Rob Millinship could get away promptly in the Sopwith Pup.

The other benefit was that I got the best seat in the show for the remainder of the show, right underneath the big hitters – Hawker Fury, Grumman Wildcat, Bearcat, and Catalina.

Magnificent! We were also right there when the Gloster Gladiator engine started misfiring, and was actually landed out in a nearby farmer’s field by pilot Paul Stone. Amazingly he got her down intact, and by Tuesday morning she’s been brought back to Old Warden by road.

The rain finally arrived as we were dismantling 1264 and putting her back in the trailer, and by the time that was done we were all absolutely exhausted.

You might wonder whether all of this stress was worth it for a five minute flight, but I can tell you for sure that it was!

Sue and I stayed overnight and on Monday morning we towed the trailer to Bicester, ready for the Flywheel Festival on 24/25 June.

If you haven’t got your ticket yet, don’t hesitate. A great flying display and some absolutely awesome cars. We’re doing a static display both days, so do come and see us!


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  1. Well the work on the engine was worthwhile, the change in the performance during the display was noticeable. It looked like you were in the air before you got to the threshold.

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